As reported here by Ian Johnston of MSNBC, Fair Trials International received word that its work on behalf of Indonesian dissident Benny Wenda has paid off. The Red Notice that had been issued in Mr. Wenda’s name was recognized by INTERPOL as being politically motivated and therefore improper. INTERPOL removed the Red Notice accordingly.
Once the confetti has landed and Mr. Wenda has caught his breath, he will no doubt have time to reflect on the very long road he was forced to walk as a result of the politically motivated charges that were filed against him.
Mr. Wenda was convicted in court of charges that were politically motivated. He was separated from his family and extracted from his own life. Because of his knowledge that he was unfairly treated by the Indonesian authorities, and his anticipation of continued due process violations, he escaped from prison while awaiting his sentencing there. Once he escaped prison, he then fled the country, and embarked upon the process of claiming and ultimately receiving asylum in the United Kingdom. Now, finally, he has had relief from INTERPOL.
And this is someone who “won.” Unfortunately, Indonesia is not the only INTERPOL member country that misuses INTERPOL for political reasons. For every Benny Wenda, there are so many who don’t escape the prison where they are held on improper charges. There are so many who don’t escape the persecuting country. And for those who do escape, so many lack the will or the resources to challenge the Red Notices improperly issued in their names.
Congratulations are in order for Mr. Wenda, for Fair Trials International, and in fairness, for INTERPOL’s CCF. The Commission got this one right.
But the CCF might bear in mind the truth that any trial lawyer will tell you: you’re only as good as your last win, and tomorrow’s another day. The CCF can do much to strengthen INTERPOL’s standing in the international community by refusing to allow itself to be manipulated for political gains, and by continuing to thoroughly examine claims of political motivation, and to get it right, again and again.
As always, thoughts and comments are welcomed.